Pastor's Desk - Lent and War

Mar 06, 2022

Vladimir Putin seem to fit the profile of a bully;

A bully is one who insists on death before dishonour. Even when the action seems unpopular, inappropriate and irrational, it will still be pursued as to back down would be dishonour.  Putin has taken on a medium-size country and is beating them up not because of any great resources they have, because they are one of the poorest countries in Europe, but because of its location and history and geopolitical significance.

What are the issues behind this war?

  • For Russia, Ukraine is family and Putin has a vision of restoring the former Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia which were part of the former Soviet Union. These are now republics and that dream will not be realized.
  • Ukraine is the closest to Russia on the west. It is not a part of NATO unlike the other states mentioned as well as Poland and Romania, but it has leanings. Putin does not like the fact that Ukraine is getting so close to NATO, as this is perceived as a threat to Russian security.
  • Putin has his own domestic problems exacerbated by covid and manifested as political uprisings and he wants to bolster his image among his people
  • While the beating up of civilians and the army is taking place in Ukraine, US and the Western allies look on as Putin has threatened a nuclear attack if they intervene. Notwithstanding, the US has intensified the sanctions imposed on Russia. It is anticipated that these sanctions, such as cutting trade, freezing bank assets of Russians in the US will have the effect of cutting off Russia from most of the rest of the world commercially, and this could create unrest among the Russian population, which would not be good news for the leadership.
  • US and Western countries are still sending arms to Ukraine, and troops to NATO but not to Ukraine as this would be seen as interference by Russia and a reason to increase aggression.

The outcomes

Animosity between Russian and Ukrainians will increase. There will be much loss of lives and dislocation of people’s lives, just as there is for Jamaicans in some communities when there are gang conflicts, community feuds and what we call turf wars. Innocent children, youth and women will die, some sacrificially as they fight for their country’s freedom. At the end of this, who wins?

Sad to say no one. Steven Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, counsels win-win, in all situations. That is not the approach of a bully. A bully wants to win, at all cost. The casualties do not matter. It is the same approach Jesus says that the thief(devil) takes, to steal, kill and destroy. Winning cannot be the only position that leaders take in dealing with conflicts. Sometimes the desire to win is driven by fear, insecurity, pride and lack of trust. National leaders must consider what is in the best interest of all people, not just their political interest.  If leaders seek only to win, all of us will be losers.

What then is the lament during this season of Lent?

We must lament the idolatrous position, men often assume, in seeking to make themselves gods in people’s lives. This is unacceptable and a prime prohibition of the ten commandments you shall have no other gods beside me.” Jesus resisted this when Satan invited him to fall down and worship him. Those who play gods in the life of people and seek to be worshipped, must know that God will not hold them guiltless.

We must lament for those who die in the midst of war, especially those who are innocent victims; those who fight that peace may prevail and give their lives for others. This is what Jesus had done for the world, for God so love that He gave…. (Jn 3:16).

We must call a solemn assembly and lament for peace in our lives, among our families, our schools, our communities and in our land. Let us pray during this Lenten season, that peace will be the first option we seek where there is conflict, peace will be pursued when all other options fail, and peace will still be prioritized when our neighbour wants war.

Bullies do not always win. On the cross, Christ defeated the devil and demonstrated to the world that non-violence is possible through Christ.